Approaches to metaphor: Structure,
classifications, cognate phenomena
HELEN V. SHELESTIUK
The article aspires to present a systematized view on the contemporary understanding of metaphor essence and structure, reviews various classiﬁcations of metaphor, and discusses cognate ‘similarity-based’ phenomena in natural language. The opposing views on metaphor as a three- and twocomponent structure are reconciled in the article through the analysis of di¤erent kinds of metaphors. Three types of classiﬁcations of metaphor — semantic, structural and functional — are speciﬁed and reviewed. Finally, the article examines the cognate phenomena, viz. metaphoric personiﬁcation (prosopopoeia, pathetic fallacy, apostrophe), animaliﬁcation, metaphoric antonomasia, metaphoric allusion, metaphoric periphrasis, synesthesia, allegory, and metaphoric symbolism. Possibly no other complex semiotic phenomenon has received such a broad theoretic coverage as metaphor. Aristotle, Rousseau, Lomonosov, Hegel, Nietzsche, Cassirer, Ortega-y-Gasset, Ricouer and other prominent thinkers have tapped at the ontological roots of metaphor; in philology and linguistics (including theory of literature, etymology, linguistic pragmatics, and cognitive linguistics) the concept of metaphor has been developed by such deceased and living scholars as A. Kuhn, M. Mu¨ller, A. Potebnya, I. A. Richards, M. Black, R. Jakobson, K. Burke, P. Wheelwright, C. Brook-Rose, L. J. Cohen, J. Searle, S. Levin, G. Lako¤, M. Johnson, R. Gibbs, A. Paivio, A. Ortony, T. Todorov, U. Eco, V. P. Grigoryev, N. D. Arutyunova, S. M. Mezenin, and many others.
Despite the variety of approaches to metaphor as a phenomenon the views on its nature and structure are essentially alike. Aristotle in his On the Art of Poetry wrote that one should see similarities in order to create a good metaphor (Aristotle 1984: 669). His deﬁnition of metaphor as a Semiotica 161–1/4 (2006), 333–343 0037–1998/06/0161–0333 DOI 10.1515/SEM.2006.0aa 6 Walter de Gruyter
(AutoPDF V7 26/5/06 11:28) WDG (148225mm) TimesM J-1534 Semiotica, 161 PMU: S(R) 12/05/2006 pp. 333–344 1534_161_14 (p. 333)transfer of a noun from one object to another (within a category from genus to species, from species to genus, and from species to species, and from one category to another by analogy) lay the foundation for the classical deﬁnition of metaphor as a transfer (transposition) of a name of an object/ phenomenon to another object/ phenomenon on the basis similarity between them. This postulate made it possible to view metaphor as a three-component structure on the analogy with simile: the primum, secundum, and tertium comparationis (termed by I. A. Richards the tenor, vehicle and ground) were assumed to be present in metaphor (Richards 1990 : 93). However, metaphor was regarded as a condensed, abbreviated, or elliptic simile, because it is not infrequent that either the name of the tenor or the vehicle are implicit in metaphors, and the name of the ground is ‘in absentia’ on a regular basis.
Compare the similes, where all three or at least two components are explicit1 : e.g. ‘Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth’ (Shakespeare), ‘she was like a piece of iced-cake that one ﬁnds in a silvered box, in a forgotten drawer, . . . thirty years after the voices at the wedding have faded away’ (H. E. Bates), ‘the men . . . talking ceaselessly together with the dry throaty rattle of pebbles being rolled down a gully’ (L. Lee). Of course, in certain structural types of metaphor the vehicle and the tenor are both present, viz. in ‘quasi-identities’ (T is V ), e.g., ‘men are April when they woo’ (Shakespeare), ‘the past is a bucket of ashes’ (C. Sandburg); in the types ‘T turns into V’: ‘The river spread and writhed, and whirled into transparent fans, hissing and...
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